Lecithin: A Must for Every Man
( Originally Published 1956 )
WE WERE having dinner on the Nelsons' patio, beneath the California stars—Jerry and Julie Nelson, Dr. Steve Preston, who is a brilliant professor of economics, and I. I hadn't seen the Nelsons since my last trip to California. Julie was as lovely as ever, but Jerry's face looked pale and drawn.
"They're so close," said Jerry, leaning back in his chair and looking at the sky. "Julie, I could almost reach up and pick a handful of stars—and put them around your neck."
"A very pretty neck, too," said Steve Preston. "The stars would be honored."
"A necklace of stars," Julie laughed. "How charming! Oh, Jerry, you are a poet!"
Without a word Jerry slammed down his coffee cup and stalked into the house. Julie's frightened eyes followed him.
"I shouldn't have said that," she whispered. "I should have known it would upset him. He'd like so much to be a really fine poet—and he could be if he didn't have to grind out advertising copy all day long!"
"He makes a good living at it, doesn't he?" I asked practically.
"Yes, of course he does," she said. "But he hates it. And he's always so terribly nervous and exhausted! I'm afraid he's going to have a breakdown. He won't do anything about it, and I don't know what to do! But here I sit, with an expert on nutrition on one side of me and a professor of economics on the other. Why don't you two advise me? Tell me what's wrong: Is it Jerry's health? or our economic status which won't give him the chance to do what he'd like? I'm afraid I don't know much about economics."
"Nobody does." Steve Preston smiled. "But even if you did, I wonder how much good it would do? A knowledge of economics won't keep you out of the bread line—but it will help you to understand how you got there!"
"I suppose," said Julie, "that starving in garrets has gone out of fashion—even for poets."
The professor nodded "Mainly due to the fact that, in today's housing, the garret is as extinct as the dinosaur or the dodo."
The door behind us slammed again and Jerry came out with a cocktail shaker. His hands were trembling as he poured himself a drink.
"Steve was just telling us," Julie said nervously, "some-thing about economics."
"Go ahead," said Jerry. "Don't let me spoil the party."
"A former student came to see me the other day," said Steve. "He picked up a list of questions I was using for a test, read it, and said, `Say, aren't these the same questions you gave us eight years ago?' I said they were. `But, Professor, don't you know the students have seen these questions?' he asked. `The guys pass them around.' `That's all right,' I told him. `In economics we change the answers!' "
Jerry grinned uncertainly and poured himself another cock-tail.
"You're a good guy, Steve," he said. "You, too, Lelord—you're all good guys except me. I'm a stinker. I don't want to be, but I am. I think it's my nerves. They're all shot to hell."
He put his head down on his hands. Julie looked at me appealingly. "Do something!" her eyes begged me. "Help him!"
"They jangle," Jerry said. "Did you ever have your nerves jangle out loud, until the sound gave you a headache?"
"Jerry," I said, "you're going to have the same nerve cells as long as you live. Your body can't grow new ones. The way you care for the ones you have will determine whether or not you have a strong nervous system or a weak, jangly one."
"Nothing helps," Jerry said. "I've taken sleeping tablets until they don't even faze me. I still can't sleep. And I'm so irritable I don't know how Julie stands it."
"Did you ever hear of lecithin?" I asked him.
"Lecithin?" he said. "No, I don't think so. Not that I re-member."
"I heard about it while I was in Europe a few years ago," said Steve. "It was used in the treatment of nervous conditions." Steve had gone to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship.
"Is it a medicine?" asked Julie.
"No, it's a food substance," I said. "It's been found to be an essential constituent of the human brain and nervous system and also of the endocrine glands and the muscles of the heart and kidneys. Nervous, mental, or glandular overactivity can use up lecithin faster than it is replaced. Then you become irritable, exhausted, and impotent."
"What's that you're saying?" asked Jerry.
"It's true, Jerry," I said. "A lecithin deficiency causes all of that and more. The drained vitality of the cerebrospinal fluid must be replenished. A nervous breakdown can result from lack of lecithin, as any really well-informed physician would tell you."
"Could it be a lack of lecithin that causes Jerry's nervous exhaustion?" asked Julie.
"It not only could be," I said. "It very likely is just that. A lecithin deficiency is a common condition today, especially among men. The nervous strain associated with competitive business, often combined with the mental insecurity of a distasteful job or an unhappy home life, uses up lecithin in a man's body faster than it can be produced."
"Your home life isn't unhappy, is it, Jerry?" asked Julie, putting her arm around him.
I noticed that Jerry involuntarily drew back from the em-brace before he spoke.
"Well," he said, "if it is, it's my fault—certainly not yours. I'm not easy to live with. This is a nerve-racking age. I don't even have the energy to be affectionate with my wife. All I can think of when I get home at night is, `Have a drink to dull the fatigue—take a sleeping tablet and try to get some rest'! I'm surprised that Julie doesn't leave me."
"I happen to love you," said Julie. "And I want to help you if I can. I want you to be the man you were when we were first married—happy, fairly bursting with energy and ambition . .. and love."
"There's a best-seller," I said, "that's called Love or Perish. We're just beginning to realize how true that is."
"Don't you understand?" cried Jerry. "I tell you, I'm exhausted, completely drained, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Just living is too much effort—loving is impossible."
"Jerry," I said, "your symptoms show nerve and gland exhaustion. Lecithin added to the daily diet helps overcome nervous exhaustion, headaches, insomnia, brainfag, and nutritionally caused impotence, sterility, and senility."
"Those all hit me," said Jerry. "All except senility, which won't take long at the rate I'm going!"
"Brainfag," said Steve. "That interests me. Almost every teacher I know suffers from brainfag and nervous tension. Seems to be an occupational disease with us."
"Lecithin," I went on, "is a component of the nervous system, making up about 17 per cent of it. That's why, if the body's own supply of lecithin decreases—which it does as we grow older or work under stress, or for various other reasons —lecithin must be added to the diet, or the nervous system inevitably breaks down."
"How do you take it?" asked Jerry. "You said it wasn't a medicine."
"It isn't," I said. "It's a concentrated nerve nutrient, extracted from soybeans. The granular type can be sprinkled on your food or mixed in liquids. And it also comes in capsules. It isn't to be taken in place of your vitamins and minerals, but to augment them. By the way, Jerry, I hope you do take vitamins and minerals?"
Jerry looked like a guilty child caught beside an empty cookie jar.
Julie answered for him. "I buy them for him," she said, "but he won't take them. He says a few drinks and a sleeping tablet do more for him. I usually end up taking the vitamins myself."
"No doubt, that's the reason," I said, "that you look so healthy and beautiful, Julie. While Jerry--"
"Never mind," Jerry interrupted. "I know how I look—like one of the moribund characters in Death Takes a Holiday. It's the way I feel that bothers me. After all, we can't all be handsome like you and Steve."
"The way you feel reflects the way you look," I said, "and vice versa. Improve the one and the other responds automatically."
"Isn't lecithin something comparatively new?" asked Julie.
"Not really new," I said, "but the use of it has developed amazingly during the past twenty years. Before its value to human nutrition was known, it was used as a tonic. The Germans first discovered lecithin."
Dr. Nicholas A. Ferri of Elmwood Park, Illinois, tells us: "Lecithin has a versatile function in life. It is reputed to be an unusual neutralizer of body poisons, whether they are of internal or external origin. Lecithin is an extremely important factor in the digestion and oxidation of fats, thus creating more muscle and glandular activity resulting in greater body exertions and less fat accumulations. Lecithin . . . is essential not only for the tissue integrity of the nervous and glandular system in all living cells but has been regarded as also the most effective generator and regenerator of great physical, mental and glandular activity. Shattered nerves, depleted brain power, waning activity of vital glands, find in lecithin the most active of all restorers."
Dr. Ferri goes on to tell us how lecithin affects various structures of the body: "We must keep in mind the fact that its presence, especially in the cellular structure of the nervous system and endocrine glands, is a source of dynamic energy. It stands to reason, therefore, that the less the amount of lecithin in the diet the less active are these most vital parts of the human body."
Many of your nerve fibers are surrounded by a sheath of somewhat fatty substance, the myelin sheath. This protective sheath is rich in lecithin, which nourishes your nerve cells and supplies them with motive force. In lecithin deficiency, the fatty sheath is depleted, and we know some of the results: fatigue, irritability, brainfag, sexual decline, nervous exhaustion, or even a complete breakdown.
Lecithin is valuable in preventing atherosclerosis, constituting as it does a vehicle for transporting the fat about your body. It makes the globules of fat move on, and prevents their settling on the artery walls or infiltrating the liver and other organs.
There is an unknown factor in lecithin which improves the utilization of vitamin E. This same factor is essential for the body's use of vitamin A. In patients whose diseases make the absorption of vitamin A and fats impossible, lecithin is in-dispensable.
Hydrogenated fats used in frying and baking do not contain lecithin. The processing that these fats and oils go through before they reach the consumer destroys the lecithin content, but leaves the cholesterol. If you use margarine in-stead of butter, if you eat fried foods instead of baked, boiled, or broiled, if you buy white bread or pastries from a commercial bakery, then, each day, you are consuming large amounts of cholesterol without the necessary lecithin to man-age the cholesterol and keep it moving along through your blood stream.
We know the importance of choline and inositol in our diet, and that lecithin is a rich, natural source of both. Lecithin also possesses a high phosphorus content, and phosphorus has a soothing effect on the nerves.
Lecithin is a natural extract from the fatty part of the soy-bean, and is in no sense a synthetic chemical product. When soybeans are pressed, a golden-colored oil separates from the protein part of the bean. After this virgin oil stands for some time, a yellow-colored substance settles at the bottom of the container.
This lifesaving substance is lecithin.
"I recommend lecithin for every man," I said to Jerry, "so strongly that I feel like standing up on a soapbox and shouting, `Men! Take lecithin or _you're doomed!' Naturally, de-pending on the need, some men will benefit more than others.
But no man can fail to derive exceptional benefits from adding lecithin to his diet."
"I'm going to get some tomorrow," said Julie, "and start feeding it to Jerry every day, come rain or shine."
"You'll see an almost immediate change for the better in him," I said. "You know, the nerve tissue is especially rich in lecithin in the morning. But during the course of the day nerve strain reduces the supply. That's why so many husbands come home from work grouchy and generally cantankerous."
"Not my husband," said Julie triumphantly.
"Huh?" said Jerry.
"I mean not any more," Julie amended. "Not after tomorrow. Imagine having the man I fell in love with coming home at night—instead of a nervous wretch!"
"You don't mean `wretch,' you mean nervous wreck," said said Jerry.
"Speak for yourself," Julie said. "Anyway, you won't be much longer. Not after I go on a lecithin shopping spree."
"It's too bad I didn't know about this, some time ago when I was tension-ridden and exhausted," Steve said. "Maybe I could have salvaged my own marriage."
I looked at both men searchingly. Two interesting, attractive men. Extremely intelligent, high-strung individuals, using up tremendous amounts of nerve and gland energy each day: both would find in daily lecithin a potent restorer of life forces.